Often times people will sabotage themselves in the presence of a great goal or desire. How many of us have bitten off more then we can chew? In the western Society, we have been conditioned to 'need' instant results. There is no denying that very few westerners have accomplished the ability to have patience. Those that have stand apart from the common folk. If we want to achieve great success, we need to cultivate the quality of persistence and patience. Ever hear of "over Night Success"? Ask some one that has had it and they will tell you more likely then not that the 'over night' part took them YEARS! It was only perceived by us that the success was over night.
"Break Down the Big Stuff
For me, the stumbling blocks to success were that I allowed myself to be overcome by the size of the task and how long it would take to get there. What really helped was to break down the overall journey into smaller steps and to stop looking as far into the future.
Before you can achieve something in life, you need to decide precisely what it is you want. It could be you intend to stop smoking; improve your fitness; give up gambling; get a new job, or whatever.
Avoid being vague when stating your ideal end result. The more detailed the description of what success looks like from the start, the better you’ll be able to divide it up into little steps.
Ask yourself why you want this result. It’s extremely valuable to know these reasons because they will keep you motivated during what could be a lengthy journey ahead. Any reason is valid if it matters to you. Write every one down – you can make withdrawals from this ‘motivation bank’ when the going gets tough.
Decide on an overall time frame. It’s essential that you set a realistic time frame for achieving your end result. If you set impossible deadlines, there’s a very strong chance you’ll fall short. On the other hand, if you have no end date in mind, you’ll be tempted to use delaying tactics and never get there.
Once you have a clearly defined idea of the what, why and how long of your end result, you can break down the entire process.
Here are a few tips to do this:
1. Pinpoint the steps involved. Let’s say, for example, that your end result is to get a job as a teacher in 5 years time. Ask yourself what individual steps are needed to get there. Are specific qualifications and experience required? How can you gain these skills? What can you do to study or re-train? Come up with all the steps you can think of. The purpose of this exercise is to flesh out what is still a large aim into smaller, detailed steps. Each one represents a stepping stone towards achieving your end result.
2. Create a pint-sized action plan. Think of the steps as actions. Once you understand what actions are needed to achieve your end result, you can pull these together into a plan. In my case, the end result was “to lose 100 pounds in 18 months”. In order to accomplish this, I had to be a lot more precise about the actions to take. These included cutting down on junk food, eating more fruit and veg, and preparing healthier meals.
3. Set mini targets and daily/ weekly tasks. When you create your action plan, work out a series of targets you believe it’s possible to reach on the way to your end result. For example, a healthy weight loss of between 1 and 2 pounds per week is advised. Although the big target was 100 pounds, I was much more able to comprehend the mini weekly target of one and a half pounds. Decide what you need to have done in six, three and one months’ time to achieve your end result. Then break it down into monthly and weekly chunks, and from here you can set yourself simple daily and weekly tasks that are easily reached.
4. Keep on track. If the mini target for a given week isn’t achieved, don’t despair. The small-scale approach is so flexible that it allows you to make instant changes. On a weekly basis, ask yourself what happened and whether you could do anything differently? Carry over the shortfall to the following week and tweak your daily and weekly tasks accordingly. Keep on completing these small-scale tasks and meeting the mini targets, and the end result will be well within your grasp.
5. Forget the long-term. Get into the habit of ignoring the end date, and try to stop dwelling on what’s to come in the future. Don’t worry – you already considered the overall task and how long it would take when you set the mini targets and the daily/ weekly tasks. Now you can put the long-term view to one side, and really pay attention to achieving these smaller, shorter-term targets and tasks.
6. Adjust your steps. Along the way, you might find that what you’re trying isn’t as effective as you hoped. Or, other factors – such as job and family commitments – could affect your focus. Be ready to tweak your targets and tasks, when necessary. It’s perfectly ok to revisit and revise them to ease the load. Better to pace yourself than be stressed out.
7. Celebrate the little wins. One success leads to another, so use all your wins to spur you on. As each milestone is passed triumphantly, it’ll boost your motivation and you’ll gain a renewed confidence in your abilities. Reward yourself with something which makes you feel amazing – a new pair of jeans, a trip to the park with your kids, a relaxing homemade spa day. Treat yourself to anything which reinforces your resolve to reach the end. It needn’t cost a penny.
8. Resist the urge to supersize. It’s human nature to want results fast. At times, you might be tempted to rush at things and bite off more than you can chew, ending up back at square one. If you’re tempted to give up, refer to your ‘motivation bank’ of reasons why you want the end result. Be determined and concentrate on only the current stage of your journey, and not on what’s next. Reflect on how far you’ve come and what a waste it would be to throw in the towel.
Balancing Grand Ambitions with Manageability
Some folk will tell you that it shows a lack of ambition to go for lifestyle change on a smaller scale. They prefer to adopt an all-or-nothing mindset, believing it’s a sign of weakness to be slow and steady in your approach. That’s fine … let them take on the whole world, while you manage your habits on your own terms.
True, in order for us to grow, we’ve got to be prepared to stretch ourselves. But, there’s a fine balance to be struck between reachable and impossible goals, as they apply to you alone. Not everyone wants (or is able) to cope with overly ambitious goals, so don’t feel under pressure due to anyone else’s expectations.
There’s no escaping the fact that long-lasting lifestyle change requires an investment of your time and effort, as well as a pinch of patience. You can, however, make the road to achieving great things less intimidating when you break down the end result into many smaller steps.
You’ll feel fantastic when you finally complete the journey."
(Read more articles from Scott McIntyre on colorful living – and how ordinary people can do great things – by subscribing to the Vivid Ways feed. You can also add color to your life by signing up for the free Vivid Ways newsletter.)
Think of it this way:
When a Mountain Climber is going for the Peak, he ONLY focuses on the rock in front of him. He already KNOWS he will make it to the top, but he pushes that out, so he can maintain his foot hold and not loose track of the task at hand.
You can have your dream if only you LIVE IT!
The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it. ~Charles DeLint
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